The American economy is making a significant shift from buying to renting, and that may ultimately be good news. According to a USA Today analysis of Census data released this weekend, since 2006, the number of households that rent has grown by about 700,000 a year, while the number of households that own has fallen by about 200,000 a year.
[R]enting is better than owning for many Americans. Indeed, dozens of recent studies have shown that, excepting the go-go bubble years, houses tend not to make very good investments at all: A prospective homebuyer would have made more money taking her down payment, parking it in inflation-adjusted Treasury bonds, and renting.
But it is conclusive: Not everyone should own a home. The recession has helped erode the stigma against renting, with about 70 percent of Americans now admitting that it has advantages over buying a house. If people are making unsentimental decisions about whether homeownership is really worth it for them, that is at least one small benefit of the housing bubble bursting.
See the whole article with links to reports and surveys here: The Rent Isn’t Too Damn High